When a recipe calls for bread crumbs, you actually have a handful of options.
From binding ingredients in meatloaf and meatballs to adding crunch to casseroles, bread crumbs have a lot of jobs in the kitchen. They are even used to thicken soup and stews. So let’s talk about the different types of bread crumbs you can use. They fall into two categories: store-bought and homemade.
When making homemade bread crumbs you can grind up day-old bread at home in a food processor and toast it in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil. Some home cooks will also add more flavor by sprinkling them with garlic salt and pepper.
When making this version you can forego toasting them when you need a softer, more absorbent texture. These are often used to bind ingredients and improve the texture in soups and meats.
Panko is typically store-bought and always made with white bread, sometimes with the crust and sometimes without. The former is referred to as white panko and the latter tan panko. It’s flakier and not as fine as other forms of bread crumbs and absorbs less oil, which tends to bring a crunchier texture to dishes. It’s commonly used in Asian cuisine but has become more common in western dishes as well.
While the packaged plain bread crumbs you see in stores are sometimes knocked for tasting stale, they can still add a lot of texture to dishes and can simplify cooking when you don’t want to go through the trouble of making your own.
Italian bread crumbs are another common option on store shelves. They’re simply regular bread crumbs with Italian seasonings like oregano and basil. They also contain salt, pepper, parsley flakes, and garlic and onion powders.
How long will bread crumbs last
Store-bought bread crumbs last about 6 months in your pantry but longer in the fridge (about 2 years). If making homemade bread crumbs, store them in the freezer for up to three months.
Bread crumb substitutes
Cracker crumbs and rolled oats can be used in place of bread crumbs. Quinoa can also make a good substitute, or you can try crushed cereal flakes.
What are the ways to use bread crumbs?
There are different types of bread crumbs to use in cooking depending on the application and finished dish. Bread crumbs, fresh or dry, are often used in meat mixtures to bind moisture and provide a more tender texture. The perfect example is using a panade in meatballs or meatloaf. The starches in the bread bind to the liquid, keeping the food juicy instead of being lost during the cooking process.
Bread crumbs like traditional or panko are used as a coating/breading for recipes like chicken parmesan, chicken tenders, fried fish, and tempura. It can also add an interesting crunch to top on salads, baked pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese, or green beans.